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The Sign of Four (Sherlock Holmes #2)

3.96 of 5 stars 3.96  ·  rating details  ·  47,502 ratings  ·  1,954 reviews
It is in this, the second Holmes novel, that the great detective comes fully to life--not only as a melancholic and an inscrutable master of deduction, but also as an incurable drug addict. "Which is it today?" Watson asks Holmes matter-of-factly on the opening page of the novel, "morphine or cocaine?" "It is cocaine," Holmes famously replies. "A seven-per-cent. solution. ...more
Kindle Edition
Published (first published 1890)
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Stephen
Tsk, Tsk, Tsk...apparently that’s NOT tobacco Sherlock Holmes is smoking.
profilev3
You have to love the daring Sir Arthur displayed in this novel vis-à-vis his iconic detective. How many writers would have the chutzpah to risk tarnishing the mystique of their signature creation by depicting him shooting cocaine as a cure for boredom?
Sherlock Holmes took his bottle from the corner of the mantelpiece and his hypodermic syringe from its neat morocco case. With his long, white, nervous fingers he adjusted
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Kemper
Despite being a huge crime/mystery reader, I’ve never been a big fan of the Sherlock Holmes stories. After recently reading A Study in Scarlet and now The Sign of Four, I realize that it’s not me to blame. It’s Holmes. He’s just too much of an obnoxious show-off for me to like. Add in some Victorian-era English arrogance, and I feel like flipping off any Holmes novel I see on the shelf when browsing a mystery section in a bookstore.

Holmes and his full-time professional kiss-ass Watson get hired
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Keith
Probably the best part of this book is that it begins and ends with Holmes shooting up cocaine because he's bored. I mean, that's just so damn dark, especially when A Study in Scarlet wasn't very dark at all.

Probably the worst part is struggling through all the rampant racism, which isn't nearly as funny as the rampant anti-Mormonism was in aSiS. The peg-leg jewel thief Jonathan Small (awesome) is assisted by a cannibal pygmy named Tonga (also awesome, but also horribly awful). I had to put it d
...more
K.D. Absolutely
The Sign of Four (1890) means death. This is similar to seeing Black Spot in Stevenson's Treasure Island (1883). So, these Scottish novelists, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930) and Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894) have their own ways to depict imminent death, thereby warning their characters of danger, in their masterpieces. In the Philippines, this is similar to receiving an envelop with a black ribbon inside or worst, receiving a delivery of a coffin or mourning wreath. Believe me, I saw a ...more
Shayantani Das
My second Sherlock Holmes and I have to say, I am not really impressed.

The basic storyline goes like this: Sherlock has developed an addiction for cocaine; Watson is trying to cheer him up, up comes a mystery and everyone’s happy. Along with mystery comes lady; lady and Watson go gooey eyed; there is a treasure and there is a murder; there is disparaging remarks about pre independent India by the Brits; murderer is caught, mystery is solved; Watson gets hitched and Holmes gets back to cocaine.

D
...more
Terry
_The Sign of the Four_ isn't a bad mystery, but I didn't quite like it as much as _A Study in Scarlet_ or most of the stories in _The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes_. I'm starting to think, however, that these stories aren't always of interest because of the mystery itself (though sometimes they certainly are), but more because of the revelations they disclose about the character of Sherlock Holmes himself. Did you know that he had fought a prize fighter and won? I didn't before, but now I do. We ...more
Cheryl
Mary Morstan is described as a "wronged woman" in a mysterious letter that arrived in the post asking her to meet the sender at the Lyceum theatre tonight at seven o'clock. How was the pretty twenty-seven year old governess wronged? What justice is due her?

By her own admission, she has been deprived of her father's presence for ten years after he failed to meet her at an assigned rendezvous. It is true that at a young age she was returned to England after her mother died, as her father, Captain
...more
Steve
The Sign of Four (1890) was the second volume in the Sherlock Holmes series, written by Arthur Conan Doyle three years after the first. So, one could not say that the demand for a sequel was overwhelming. Curiously enough, at the evening party the offer to publish such a sequel was made to Conan Doyle, the same magazine editor made an offer to Oscar Wilde for The Picture of Dorian Gray . That must have been a fairly interesting periodical.

The Sign of Four opens with the revelation that Holm
...more
Harini
The main reason I read this book is -

description

I have always been a huge fan of Sherlock Holmes and have read most of his works (unfortunately abridged versions during my school) but it is my latest addiction to BBC's 'Sherlock' that has made me want to pick this book up. Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman are so perfect as Sherlock and Watson. Anyways, this is supposed to be a book review and not how awesome Sherlock is.

I enjoyed this book more than the previous 'A Study in Scarlet' as there was no
...more
Kelly
Jan 04, 2010 Kelly rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all Holmes fans, esp anyone with a soft spot for Watson
If you know me, you know what a sucker I am for any book that lets me feel like a character in a gothic novel just by listening to it. This particular book is awesome at that- even whilst I was walking in the ridiculous bitter cold to work listening to this, I could see the crackle of the fireplace and the smoke of the pipe, imagine myself looking out into a dark alley and shivering at the shadows illuminated by the flames. Atmospheric A+ for both ACD (okay now I really want him to have another ...more
Geoff
I've been watching the BBC's modernized version of Sherlock (starring The Man With The Most British Name Ever "Benedict Cumberbatch"(!!)) and I can't quite tell if that's an embarrassing thing to admit or not, how much I really like it, preposterous as it is. Mainly I just want to have the mental faculties of Cumberbatch's Holmes. Anyway, thought I'd give the original a go, see what that's all about. Cocaine-induced hazes and fog-covered London make an appealing setting, in my opinion.
David Sarkies
Dec 29, 2014 David Sarkies rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who like detective novels
Recommended to David by: My Dad
Shelves: mystery
Sherlock Holmes' quest for stimulation
12 March 2013

This is the second of the Sherlock Holmes novels and opens with Sherlock Holmes shooting up cocaine and Watson sitting in his chair deciding whether he should object or not. In fact, the story opens with Holmes shooting up cocaine and closes with Holmes shooting cocaine which book ends a rather complex and intricate plot. In a way the whole story is about Holmes searching for a way to stimulate himself, and in a sense that is his addiction: sti
...more
Luís Blue B.
I am reading the Sherlock series in the same provision of many readers: chronologically.
In this second work (1890) we perceive a change in the narrative, with Watson describing the case more objectively, without that romanticized part of the investigation and the criminal report, as found in "A Study in Scarlet". Is assumed that as a Holmes recommendation for display cases.

The work begins apatically, with Sherlock bored by the lack of investigative work and something controversial that it is ju
...more
Tfitoby
I feel like the Holmes stories are more than what we've come to know as a "whodunnit." In this second outing he is the enigmatic character we've already taken a shine to in Study in Scarlet with extra added drug addiction providing much needed insight in to his psyche.

The case as it was seemed to be solved quite quickly and was sandwiched in between two sections of prose featuring Doyle doing what he does best, telling interesting stories. Neither the introduction of Mary or the tale of Small ca
...more
Cora Tea Party Princess
5 Words: Crime, classic, murder, mystery, love.

Yep, it gets better and better. Why ever did I wait so long to read the Sherlock Holmes books? I think one of those big, illustrated, hardback collection books will be on my birthday wishlist.

I liked how the story wasn't split in two as the first one was, and that it flowed a lot better.

I love how supremely confident Sherlock is in everything he does and says, and this book even made me chuckle a little.

And I loved how it all came to a close.
Ferdy
The mystery wasn't all that intriguing - I particularly hated the last chapter what with its long, drawn out, overly detailed explanation of the how/who/what/where/when of the whole treasure-murder-thing… I thought it was never going to end. Nonetheless, I still quite enjoyed the story mostly because of Sherlock and Watson's back and forth. I loved how Sherlock was so up himself and how thoroughly energetic he was about mysteries/crime… But what I enjoyed most of all about his character was his ...more
Jonathan

As with many of the great characters of literature, Sherlock Holmes was never created to star in multiple novels. He was conceived to be a one-hit wonder, to satisfy Arthur Conan Doyle's desire to create a detective who could rationalise and deduce the solutions to crimes through the art of observation. As such, in the first Sherlock Holmes' novel, A Study in Scarlet, Sherlock himself was hardly fleshed out as a character of any degree. It is instead left to this second novel to provide the famo
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Jared Millet
The second Sherlock Holmes novel is already sliding into formula - Holmes investigates crime, solves it almost immediately but doesn't tell anyone just so he can be a smart-alec, hunts down culprit, and then we veer into an extended section depicting the criminal's story from his own point of view. While in A Study in Scarlet this latter section took up a full half of the novel, in the sequel it wisely only takes up a single chapter.

Still, my problem with this one is that the problem Sherlock so
...more
Diane Librarian
This was the second novel featuring the great detective Sherlock Holmes. The plot is complex, involving a secret treasure, a one-legged man, the disappearance of Captain Morstan, whose daughter, Mary, asks Sherlock for help, and a strange note that read, "The Sign of Four."

The sections I enjoyed the most were the conversations between Sherlock and Dr. Watson, and Watson's romance with Miss Morstan. This is also the novel that introduces Sherlock's drug habit, which is amusing. And there is a th
...more
Nikki
Things I learned in this book: Watson is way more appealing a character, much of the time, than Holmes. The wrestling really is part of his character. So is the cocaine. Holmes is really irritating when he refuses to share his ideas.

It's funny reading reviews, because there are wildly differing ideas about whether this one is any good or not. Some say yes, some cry no. I enjoyed it well enough, and I thought the structure of it was better than A Study In Scarlet, with a decent transition into th
...more
midnightfaerie
The Sign of the Four by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was not as suspenseful for me as A Study in Scarlet, but it had more action and some romance with Watson which made up for it. Another great mystery with Sherlock Holmes doing his magic and wowing everyone in the process. The plot centers around a great treasure, a set of twin brothers, and a beautiful woman Watson quickly realizes he has feelings for. As usual, the police look like a bunch of blundering idiots next to Holmes and end up crawling bac ...more
Josiah Hawkins
As anyone who has taken a glance at my favorites shelf can see, I quite liked the first Holmes mystery "A Study in Scarlet". When it finally came time for me to read the second book in the series "The Sign of Four" I was very excited, and once I had closed the book, very disappointed.

The best part of the first novel was the fact that you got to witness Sherlock and Watson go out together and solve the case, all the while providing some great dialogue between themselves. While the second entry ha
...more
Lau
Que Sherlock Holmes se aburra es peligroso. Para él.
Empieza el libro inyectándose cocaína, para gran disgusto del Dr. Watson... y sorpresa mía. No esperaba que una historia de esa época (y más una tan popular) tuviera ese comienzo. Supongo que además de innovador, Sherlock Holmes debe haber sido controversial. Aún en esta época lo sería.

Como siempre quien narra es Watson, y esta vez tendrá un severo caso de enamoramiento al conocer a la bella señorita Mary Morstan. Ella llega a sus habitaciones
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F.R.
That 'Sherlock' they showed on the BBC recently was really good wasn't it? I admit that I approached the notion of a modern day Sherlock Holmes with some degree of trepidation. How gimmicky would it be? Would the placing of such a character in a modern setting be played for jokes? Were the actors going to cope with the pressure of portraying such iconic Victorian figures in a modern setting, and could today’s CCTV London match its long ago dingy, smog-ridden self?

As it turned out, there was no n
...more
Stephanie
A strange letter and a fortune in jewels and pearls lead Holmes and Watson on a merry chase. In this story, we meet the lovely Miss Mary Morstan and are also introduced to Sherlock's cocaine habit. I think Sherlock must be bipolar and so does Dr. Watson. He gets really annoyed with Sherlock indulging in his drugs of choice. Anyhow, this was fun, the who dunnit and the history behind the treasure was also very interesting.
Beth Sniffs Books
I felt many parts of the plot were contrived and (view spoiler) I skimmed the last chapter -- which makes me feel guilty since I was nearly done, but I just couldn't.

Alas, it may not be my destiny to be a fan of Sherlock Holmes since I gave two-stars to A Study in Scarlet. I'm just not feeling it to give the short stories a try -- as they are next to read by publication date.


Michael
Mary Marston’s father disappeared and suddenly she has started receiving several large pearls. Now a mystery letter tells her she is a wronged woman, so she seeks out Sherlock Holmes to ask for help. This case leads Holmes down a path that involves the East India Company, India, the Indian Rebellion of 1857, a stolen treasure, and a secret pact among four convicts and two corrupt prison guards.

Scottish born Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle was the third of ten siblings to Charles Altamont Doyle, an I
...more
LauraJade
This novel doesn't waste any time at all before jumping into the action headfirst! The Game's afoot!

It's once again surprising to find (as Martin Freeman also points out in his intro here in my edition) how much of the characters we know and love have always been a part of the books, and despite their many reincarnations they were always the modern, exciting duo of their time.

The fast-paced speed at which Holmes works; the witty banter between him and Watson (at one point Holmes arrives in Watso
...more
Dfordoom
The Sign of Four Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Apart from The Hound of the Baskervilles Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes novels are not as highly regarded as his short stories. In the case of The Sign of Four that’s something of a pity as it really is splendid entertainment.

A young woman has been receiving puzzling annual gifts for several years - extremely valuable pearls. Her father had been an army officer who had served in India and later in the garrison of the penal colony in the Andaman Islands. His
...more
Marts  (Thinker)
The Sign of Four or The Sign of 'the' Four, begins with a drug induced Sherlock Holmes being called upon by Mary Morstan for him to solve a mystery involving the disappearance of her father, Captain Arthur Morstan, about ten years earlier after he returned to London on leave from his regiment in India. Whilst there he apparently met one Thadeus Sholto and they both came into possession of treasure. However this treasure was stolen by four prison convicts (hence the term "sign of four") who made ...more
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2448
Arthur Conan Doyle was born the third of ten siblings on 22 May 1859 in Edinburgh, Scotland. His father, Charles Altamont Doyle, was born in England of Irish descent, and his mother, born Mary Foley, was Irish. They were married in 1855.

Although he is now referred to as "Conan Doyle", the origin of this compound surname (if that is how he meant it to be understood) is uncertain. His baptism record
...more
More about Arthur Conan Doyle...

Other Books in the Series

Sherlock Holmes (9 books)
  • A Study in Scarlet  (Sherlock Holmes, #1)
  • The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (Sherlock Holmes, #3)
  • The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (Sherlock Holmes, #4)
  • The Hound of the Baskervilles (Sherlock Holmes, #5)
  • The Return of Sherlock Holmes (Sherlock Holmes, #6)
  • The Valley of Fear (Sherlock Holmes, #7)
  • His Last Bow (Sherlock Holmes, #8)
  • The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes (Sherlock Holmes, #9)
A Study in Scarlet  (Sherlock Holmes, #1) The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (Sherlock Holmes, #3) The Hound of the Baskervilles (Sherlock Holmes, #5) The Complete Sherlock Holmes The Complete Sherlock Holmes, Vol 2

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“My mind," he said, "rebels at stagnation. Give me problems, give me work, give me the most abstruse cryptogram or the most intricate analysis, and I am in my own proper atmosphere. I can dispense then with artificial stimulants. But I abhor the dull routine of existence. I crave for mental exaltation. That is why I have chosen my own particular profession, or rather created it, for I am the only one in the world.” 412 likes
“How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?” 164 likes
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